With Hulu’s original limited series ‘Welcome to Chippendales’ delving deep into the titular, virtually pioneering all-male striptease dance troupe, we get a true insight into its dark and twisted history. That’s because it does not shy away from charting either the personal life of its founder Somen “Steve” Banerjee or the way he turned to criminality rather than business once competition came to light.
This eight-part production directed by Robert Siegel (‘Pam & Tommy‘ as well as ‘Big Fan’), inspired by the 2014 non-fiction book ‘Deadly Dance: The Chippendales Murders,’ is thus rather authentic. So, of course, since real-life Steve had a typical Indian frame for a thriving entrepreneur — weighing 160 lbs at 5’9″ — you must be wondering whether actor Kumail Nanjiani tried matching the look.
Did Kumail Nanjiani Gain Weight to Play Somen “Steve” Banerjee?
While we all clearly remember the fact Kumail got extremely shredded for his role as Kingo in Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ (2021), his physical transformation for this Chippendales miniseries is completely different. He admittedly gained a total of 25 lbs of pure fat to portray Steve as naturally as possible — there are evidently no prosthetics on him when it comes to the overall physique we see on our screens.
“Yeah, the guy who founded Chippendales did not look like [anyone else he worked with],” Kumail explained during an interview for the ‘SmartLess’ podcast. “And part of the story is this guy is the king of a world that he doesn’t fit in, you know. Because it’s all these white dudes who look like Adonises, and then this guy was like a bigger guy, who did not look like a male stripper. So, I had to change the way I look… There’s a way to do it healthy, you know. And then there’s the way I did it, which is – – I just ate pies and fries and fried chicken.”
However, embodying Steve for months and months on end during filming was much more difficult for Kumail than some might expect since it took a physical as well as an emotional toll on him. “He’s a lot stiffer than I am—he’s disconnected from his body, coiled really tight,” he told Vanity Fair. “I started having this back pain a few months into the shoot, this gnarly knot. It got worse and worse, and the pain would go from there all the way up to my ear.” Then, there was the intense psychological approach he had to consistently take to effectively represent someone who did terrible things at the cost of others’ lives.
Yet it’s imperative to note the ‘Silicon Valley’ actor is currently working on losing and maintaining his weight in the usual range for his health and any future projects that might come his way. “I’ll tell you, man, it’s very easy to get obsessed with that number on the scale,” Kumail had said back in 2021. “It’s a tough thing. It’s deceiving. You become obsessed with it. I certainly have, and for me, it’s not great to weigh myself every day.” In another interview, he admitted he’s not very comfortable talking about his body because although changing it comes with the trade and is often his choice, it’s hard when everything is in the public eye.